This Gregg Kilday piece echoes what I’ve been feeling for a while now. ¬†It isn’t that much different from last year in that, with ten Best Pic slots, it feels like a light year already. There are some films that have that Best Pic buzz on them out of the festival circuit, but it seems to me that studios are playing it smart once again and keeping their films from being bandied about by bloggers early on, thus killing their chances come Oscar time. ¬†It is a risky game to play. ¬†Some films can’t be revived from bad festival buzz. ¬†Some films can surprise, even with bad festival buzz.
But there are some other films lurking on the horizon that might do some damage. Let’s lay them out.
Toy Story 3 – a robust contender with opportunities to land in multiple categories, including Screenplay and of course, Sound Editing. ¬†There has been possible talk of it winning Best Picture – and I would say to that when pigs fly. ¬†But you never know. Pigs could suddenly sprout wings and take to the air. ¬†Stranger things have happened.
Shutter Island – it didn’t get the reviews it should have gotten. ¬†But many are still hailing it as a masterpiece in many respects. ¬†It is Scorsese and Dicaprio, so nothing should be ruled out, but we’ll have to wait and see if anyone still remembers it after Summer, or if they even remember it now at all. ¬†I don’t think, when all is said and done, it will be remembered as one of the ten best films of the year. ¬†A lot of other movies will have to tank for that to happen. ¬†But I am not always right.
Winter’s Bone – while it’s all about Jennifer Lawrence right now, the buzz and heat is palpable. ¬†It’s very possible it will be nominated for Picture, Actress, Screenplay. ¬†Maybe even director. ¬†After Kathryn Bigelow’s win last year (cue Avatar whiners), this will be the test to see whether another female can follow the very next year. ¬†Two possibles for this, and one of them is most definitely is Debra Granik.
Fair Game – Seen at Cannes (but not by me). Very good by all accounts, GREAT by some accounts. Timely, well acted, a good moment in our history to be pissed off at the government and most of us are beyond pissed off (still) about the dirty pool our own government played in the Valerie Plame disaster.
Wall Street 2 – Probably not, but it does have a lot of great things about it and is a crowd pleaser. Oliver Stone has a Huge Chavez doc out this year, which will help. If it were me, though, I’d get out in front of the ending of this movie and not wait until crowds are surprised by it, maybe even disappointed. Lots of cover story with Michael Douglas explaining it would help. It is vastly entertaining, and more than that, it brings to light much of the shit Wall Street dumped on the American citizens this year – a great companion piece to Charles Ferguson’s brilliant Inside Job. Let’s hit them where they live, fellas. (Sept. 24)
Blue Valentine — May turn out to be one of the best films about a dissolving marriage – and it’s in great company. Wonderfully acted by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, directed with devotion and depth by Derek Cianfrance. Weinstein Co. will release it December 31.
Another Year – Mike Leigh’s absolutely brilliant study on relationships, with a showstopping performance by Lesley Manville. But also great is Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen. One of the best films of the year, no doubt, and an easy Best Pic sell.
The Kids Are All Right – The Annette Bening/Julianne Moore family dramedy looks to be strong on actress love, and maybe Best Pic – it will depend on how well it is received upon release. Looks good for now, though. (July 7)
The Films with the Most Promise, Sight Unseen (in random order):
Inception – Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending thriller about getting inside our dreams. ¬†While this doesn’t have Oscar written all over it, what makes it into the race now are films that are great no matter what genre they are birthed from. ¬†Audiences seem to shell out their hard earned dough now to see something they’ve never seen before. ¬†Otherwise, they wait for it to come on cable or Netflix, which it does in just a few months. ¬†But Inception is one of those “you have to see it in the theater.” ¬†So it will make money. ¬†Nolan has built up some serious cache after The Dark Knight snub, so if this is anywhere near serious enough, we could be looking at a Best Director nod for Nolan along with a slew of other nods. ¬†This is never good to write before a movie has been released, however. ¬†Shame on me. (July 16)
The Extra Man – Kevin Kline performance showcase, worth keeping an eye on. (July 30)
Middle Men – from Paramount. You never know what a movie like this will do. It has my own personal interest just because it’s about one of my favorite subjects – the early days of the interwebs. (August 6)
Eat, Pray, Love – Because you just never know. Oprah power. (August 13)
The American – Never underestimate the power of George Clooney. (Sept. 1st)
The Social Network directed by David Fincher and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake – and written by Aaron Sorkin. You know, it’s about that website, what’s it called again? The name escapes me. (October 1)
Secretariat The mighty horse that won the Triple Crown movie, starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich. Wholesome entertainment everyone in America can enjoy. Directed by Randall Wallace. (October 8)
Hereafter – the WB film that reteams Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood, also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, written by Peter Morgan, about three people touched by death in different ways. (October 22)
Morning Glory Harrison Ford and Rachel MacAdams with Diane Keaton – the news business. (November 12)
Love and Other Drugs – Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in an Ed Zwick film about a woman with Parkinson’s. (November 14)
Next Three Days Paul Haggis wrote and directed the film, which stars Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks and is about a woman wrongly accused of murder and a teacher figuring out how to free her. (November 19)
The King’s Speech – Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter — directed by Tom Hooper, and the plot is this: “A young king — father of Queen Elizabeth II — reluctantly assumes the throne after his brother, Edward, abdicates. Considered unfit to rule and cursed with a nervous stammer, the unprepared monarch turns to an unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue. The two men form an unlikely friendship as King George finds his voice and leads the country into war against the Germans. ” The flipside story of Wallis Simpson’s love affair with the man who would be king. Weinsteins are the distribs.¬† (November 26)
The Fighter – the eagerly anticipated David O’Russell film starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. Distributed by Paramount. (November 26)
The Tree of Life – the much discussed upcoming Terrence Malick movie starring Brad Pitt.¬† Little is really known about the film, except that it probably won’t be screened at Venice but will be at Toronto. (Some time in November)
Everything You’ve Got – The Jim Brooks romcom starring Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson – if it’s as good as it gets, it will be great. (December 17)
Somewhere – Sofia Coppola in familiar territory with a young daughter relating to her older father as they try to eke out a normal life at the Chateau Marmont. Looks like Elle Fanning might save this from being an insufferable tale of a whiny rich kid.¬† Sofia Coppola is always worth a look, though, and two things we know for sure: pretty to look at, great soundtrack. (December 22).
True Grit – The Coen Brothers remake with Jeff Bridges. A Christmas release. ¬†They are always surprising, these genius directors. ¬†But one never knows what kind of dish they’ll be serving up. ¬†Funny funny, or funny tragic. (December 25)
Films with no release date yet:
Conviction – one great trailer shoots it to the big pile. ¬†The Betty Anne Waters story seems like a feelgood movie that may do some kind of business for people looking to be cheered up. ¬†Oscars would help. ¬†If only there was a Christian angle.
Leaves of Grass – a Tim Blake Nelson joint with an incredible cast – Edward Norton, Keri Russell, Susan Sarandon – a film about identical brothers on two different paths. First Look Studios will release it.
Life During Wartime – Todd Solondz, starring Alison Janney. IFC Films releasing.
The Matarese Circle – Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington star in David Cronenberg’s new pic. Cronenberg, like Solondz, is always someone to look out for. You know, at the very least, you’re going to be getting something unusual, and carefully made. MGM will distrib.
Night Catches Us – The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie stars alongside Kerry Washington, written and directed by Tanya Washington.
The Way Back – Peter Weir film starring Colin Farrell and Saoirse Ronan. This film has no release date, but Weir is always a director to take seriously, especially given the fact that he’s never been officially anointed by the Academy.¬† Ed Harris is also possibly up for an Oscar, given the way he looks in this photo: